- South Korea Expands Its Export Possibilities for SMRs with NuScale, TerraPower, X-Energy, and Holtec
- KHNP to Set Up Enriched Uranium Supply Chain with Centrus and Orano
- South Korea Calls on US to Resolve Legal Dispute On Nuclear Reactor Export To Czech Republic
- KHNP CEO Elected EPRI Board Member
- Kazakhstan / Minister Confirms Four Offers For Country’s First Nuclear Power Station
South Korea Expands Its Export Possibilities for SMRs
- Doosan Enerbility executives meet with global SMR companies. The objective is to solidify its market position in the supply chain for this sector.
Business Korea reports, based on press releases from South Korean industry sources, that Doosan Enerbility’s executives met with the CEOs of NuScale Power and X-energy in Washington, D.C., to discuss future business cooperation.
This agreement is a follow-up to the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the Korea-U.S. Advanced Industry and Clean Energy Partnership. The agreement outlines areas of cooperation, such as marketing, technical support, and further development of a global supply chain. Doosan and NuScale committed to strengthening their cooperation to deploy NuScale VOYGR plants globally.
Specifically, Doosan will establish a US-based supply chain for NuScale Power Module production through capacity expansion and advancement of manufacturing technology of long lead time components.
NuScale Power will work with Doosan Enerbility to make the most of the latter’s supply chain in South Korea. Doosan Enerbility will leverage its capacity and experience in nuclear cycle production to help lay the foundation for NuScale Power’s SMRs to be manufactured in the United States.
Doosan Enerbility became the first Korean company to make an equity investment in NuScale Power in 2019. To date, the company has invested a total of US$104 million in equity with other Korean investors, maintaining a close relationship with NuScale Power.
Doosan Enerbility will begin manufacturing long lead time components for NuScale Power’s first SMR-based power plant in the United States later this year. At the end of 2022, NuScale placed the order for first upper reactor pressure vessel with Doosan.
UAMPS’ Carbon Free Power Project (CFPP) plant, using NuScale Power’s first SMR project in the United States, will build a power plant in Idaho with the goal completing it in 2029. The SMR power plant will have six 77 MW reactor modules that total 462 MW of power.
NuScale Inks MOU with Export-Import Bank of Korea
NuScale Power also announced it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Export-Import Bank of Korea (KEXIM) to support NuScale’s small modular reactor (SMR) deployment.
In March 2023, KEXIM and NuScale signed an MOU in which they agreed to financial cooperation in support of deploying NuScale VOYGR plants. KEXIM is the official export credit agency of Korea providing comprehensive export credit and guarantee programs to support Korean enterprises conducting overseas business.
The organization continues to explore potential opportunities to provide credit facilities to NuScale and facilitate overseas business of Doosan in collaboration with NuScale. With KEXIM’s assistance, Doosan and NuScale will be able to deploy NuScale VOYGR plants worldwide and utilize a Korean supply chain when deploying NuScale plants in the Asian market.
Doosan Meets with X-Energy
The Doosan Enerbility executives also met with Chairman of X-energy Kam Gafarian and CEO of X-energy Clay Sell to discuss cooperation plans about hydrogen production using SMRs.
The firm is participating in the Department of Energy’s advanced reactor demonstration program, a cost shared effort, and has signed an agreement with DOW to build its first of a kind unit to provide electricity and process heat at one of the firm’s gulf coast production facilities.
Doosan Enerbility started a collaboration with X-energy in 2021 by participating in the design of an SMR with high-temperature gas promoted by X-energy. In January, the company further strengthened cooperation with X-energy by signing an agreement to make an equity investment in X-energy and supply core equipment to X-energy.
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South Korea Agreements with TerraPower and Holtec
(NucNet contributed to this report) US and South Korean companies have signed several agreements related to the deployment of small modular reactors including a key collaboration agreement with TerraPower.
SK and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) agreed to collaborate with TerraPower. SK Inc. and SK Innovation, collectively known as SK, invested $250 million in TerraPower last fall during an equity raise of $830 million, the largest private raise among advanced nuclear companies to date.
At a signing ceremony for the TerraPower agreement, the company’s president Chris Levesque spoke about the importance of bilateral relationships and global cooperation in developing nuclear technology.
“These partnerships are critical for the first Natrium reactor and the many additional facilities we plan to construct in the US and globally,” Levesque said. “We already have a strong partner in SK and look forward to adding the recognised global expertise of KHNP as a long-term partner to help realise the benefits of advanced nuclear energy.”
The company said earlier this year that it is looking for more sites as the company steps up efforts to deploy the Natrium reactor technology beyond the first proposed location in Wyoming. PacificCorp has included five new sites for Natrium reactors to replace coal fired power plants in its Integrated Resource Plan.
The Natrium technology features a 345MW sodium-cooled fast reactor with a molten salt-based energy storage system. The storage technology can boost the system’s output to 500MW of power for more than five and a half hours when needed. This innovative addition allows a Natrium plant to integrate seamlessly with renewable resources and could lead to faster, more cost-effective decarbonization of electricity generation.
Separately, Holtec International, Korea Trade Insurance Corporation and Hyundai E&C signed a financial support agreement to deploy Holtec’s SMR-160s globally. The Holtec agreement will enable “multi-lateral financing support” from the US and South Korea to meet the world’s demand for 24/7 clean energy provided by the SMR-160 power plant. No other details were provided by the parties about the agreement.
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KHNP to Set Up Enriched Uranium Supply Chain with Centrus and Orano
Business Korea reports, based on press releases from South Korean industry sources, that Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) will seek to stabilize the supply chain of uranium, a key fuel for nuclear power plants (NPPs), with the United States.
This week it announced it will build a supply chain for high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) which holds the key to the commercialization of advanced small modular reactors (SMRs) that are not based on light water design concepts.
KEPCO announced on April 27th that it signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Centrus for the supply of HALEU nuclear fuel. KHNP also signed a memorandum of understanding with French enriched uranium producer Orano on April 25th for HALEU fuel although it said the French deal would develop later than the one with Centrus. No time frame for delivery of the HALEU fuel was included in either announcement.
Uranium, a fuel for nuclear power plants, comes from more than 50 countries in the world including Australia and Canada. More than 20 of them are exporting uranium so its supply and price are stable.
However, the supply of enriched uranium for actual nuclear power plants is extremely limited. This is because there are only a few countries and companies that can produce it including Russia-based Tenex, the United Kingdom-based Urenco, France-based Orano, China-based China National Nuclear Corporation, and the United States-based Centrus.
Urenco also has a uranium enrichment plan in New Mexico. In 2019 the firm said it was “exploring the production of HALEU.” It is not clear what commitments it has made since then since the Department of Energy’s (DOE) contract for HALEU went to Centrus. In November 2022 DOE signed a $150M contract with Centrus for production of HALEU.
Separately, TerraPower and X-Energy are using some of their cost-shared funding from DOE to separately build fuel fabrication facilities for their new reactors. TerraPower will make uranium metal fuel for its Natrium reactors and X-Energy will make TRUISO pebbles for its HTGR. Both facilities will be ready to start production by 2025.
In terms of domestic needs and for export, KHNP is planning to create a standard model of Innovative SMR (i-SMR) by 2028 in cooperation with the Korean government and to enter the overseas markets after completing licensing which make it vital to secure a reliable supply of HALEU for it. In May 2021 Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) said it was speeding up the development of a small modular reactor and plans to invest around $350m to design a plant over five years and obtain licenses over three years.
No details have been released about the design of the SMR. However, South Korea has been developing a 100 MW LWR type reactor since 2011 and has explored a joint effort with Saudi Arabia to deploy multiple units there for desalination stations.
“This is an important achievement in strengthening our nuclear fuel supply chain cooperation with allies amid geopolitical instability and a global supply chain crisis,” said a KHNP official, “It also raises the possibility of preempting fuels needed for future SMRs.”
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South Korea Calls on US to Resolve Legal Dispute On Nuclear Reactor Export To Czech Republic
The energy ministers of South Korea and the United States held a meeting in Washington last week according to South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy in an effort to resolve the intellectual property dispute between KHNP and Westinghouse. A high level official of the South Korean ministry spoke with DC-based news media last week about the meeting.
Westinghouse Electric filed a lawsuit against South Korea’s Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power in October 2022 claiming that KHNP needs to obtain approval from the US government to export its nuclear reactor because it contained design information that was intellectual property that belonged to Westinghouse.
Westinghouse claims in its lawsuit that the South Korean nuclear manufacturing firm had used design and engineering information from a Westinghouse reactor in its APR1400 PWR.
South Korean Industry Minister Lee Chang-yang called on the United States to make joint efforts to resolve a legal dispute over Seoul’s potential export of nuclear reactors to the Czech Republic. The US Department of Energy had rejected KHNP’s filing on its bid for a nuclear reactor construction project in the Czech Republic earlier this year.
The Czech Republic has a tender in place for a single 1200 MW PWR to be built at Dukovany. Westinghouse is a bidder and so is KHNP. The lawsuit appears to be intended to spike KHNP’s prospects to win the business.
It could also affect KHNP’s bid to supply two PWRs to Saudi Arabia. Westinghouse is not bidder on that tender because Saudi Arabia does not have a 123 Agreement with the US. If KHNP is eliminated from the bidding for Saudi Arabia’s reactors, it could open the door for a win by either China or Russia which would be a national security concern for the US.
On April 24th KHNP said it is close to signing a binding deal with Poland to build two or possibly four 1400 MW APR-1400s in Poland. Last February Westinghouse announced progress in contracting for construction of multiple AP1000s in Poland. The lawsuit involving Westinghouse and KHNP will likely also cause problems in Poland.
Lee reportedly raised some of these issues during a meeting with US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm in Washington on the sidelines of President Yoon Suk Yeol’s state visit. In the meeting with Granholm, Minister Lee stressed the rising dependence on nuclear power amid a global energy crisis, and asked for the US government’s cooperation in resolving the legal dispute on intellectual property infringement.
Lee is no stranger to the US. He earned an MPA at Harvard (1995) and a PhD (1999) from Harvard in public policy. He began his career in government service in South Korea in 1986. As sign of his standing in South Korea, Minister Lee attended the state dinner held at the White House on April 26th honoring the visit of South Korean President Yoon to the US.
A Lost Opportunity
It was widely expected that Westinghouse and KHNP would resolve their intellectual property dispute prior to the visit this past week to the White House by South Korea’s President President Yoon Suk Yeol.
The fact that they did not is a significant missed opportunity for the two world leaders to celebrate collaboration on nuclear energy. Instead, corporate intransigence introduced an unwanted level of tension into the meeting which neither country desired to see be a part of the state visit. There were no media statements by either party about the dispute during the state visit.
During the ministerial level talks, they also agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation on clean energy, climate and energy security. Lee and Granholm also agreed to cooperate on establishing a more resilient supply chain of nuclear plants to promote the development and supply expansion of private nuclear power plants, the ministry said.
In a joint press release the two energy ministries said, “The US Department of Energy and South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy recognize the critically important role of private industry to foster innovation and technology deployment, promote joint demonstration projects and expand clean energy jobs and looks forward to engaging with a range of private and public stakeholders to advance clean energy and decarbonization efforts. . . . Additionally, Minister Lee and Secretary Granholm reiterated the commitment of President Biden and President Yoon to cooperate in nuclear markets in third countries.”
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KHNP CEO Elected EPRI Board Member
Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) CEO, Whang Joo-ho, was elected as a member to the board of the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). He is the only Asian to join the group of 39 EPRI board members.
Whang is among four directors elected for a four-year term during an EPRI annual board meeting on April 27th. Dr.Whang received his B.S. in Nuclear Engineering from Seoul National University and his M.S. and Ph. D. in Radioactive Waste Management, Nuclear Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology.
The remaining three newly elected board members are Justin E. Driscoll, acting president and CEO of New York Power Authority, Thomas J. Kent, president and CEO of Nebraska Public Power District and Jeffrey B. Guldner, president and CEO of Pinnacle West Capital Corporation. Guldner is chairman of the board and CEO of Arizona Public Service Company.
The Korean CEO met with EPRI CEO Arshad Mansoor later in the day to discuss cooperation in the fields of small modular reactor (SMR) business, digitization and extended stable operation of nuclear power plants.
In a press statement, KHNP said, “Whang is expected to strengthen cooperation with over 1,000 EPRI members, including power providers, equipment manufacturers, technology providers, government entities and stakeholders in the power industry in the U.S., France, Italy, China and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).”
EPRI is an American independent, nonprofit organization that conducts research and development related to the generation, delivery and use of electricity to help address challenges in the energy industry, including reliability, efficiency, affordability, health, safety and environment.
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Kazakhstan / Minister Confirms Four Offers For Country’s First Nuclear Power Station
- The government plans to choose technology supplier this year
(NucNet) Kazakhstan has received offers from France, China, South Korea, and Russia for the eventual construction of the country’s first nuclear power station, according to energy minister Almasadam Satkaliyev. Kazakhstan has said it is planning to choose the reactor technology supplier for its first commercial nuclear power station this year.
Satkaliyev told journalists that Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom has “certain leadership” in the world in terms of nuclear island equipment and in view of the number of nuclear plants it has been involved in building. However, he said French companies have the lead in “power equipment”, automation and control systems, and auxiliary equipment.
Kazakhstan, the world’s leading supplier of uranium, has not chosen a technology supplier for its first plants, but the minister said the country is considering “a combination” of companies, making use of “the best” expertise available.
According to Satkaliyev, the nuclear stations being built in Turkey and Egypt have been “proving the effectiveness” of such an arrangement. Russia is building four 1200 MW VVR plants in Turkey and has delivered the first batch of fuel for the first of the four light water reactors at the Akkuyu site.
Russia is building the first of four 1200 MW VVER reactors at the El Dabaa site west of Cairo and has received authorization from the Egyptian government to start on the work on the second unit.
Both plants, however, will use Arabelle steam turbines, delivered by GE Steam Power, which was last year bought by France’s EDF. Rosatom has signed agreements with France’s Framatome to cooperate in the delivery of instrumentation and control systems for VVER projects. The French government has signed off on both deals despite EU sanctions on various Russian industries over the invasion of Ukraine. Rosatom was not one of the firms sanctioned due to its role in supplying uranium for French reactors.
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